Why is Israel angry some EU countries are recognising Palestine?

Ireland, Norway and Spain will formally recognise Palestine as a state for the sake of “peace in the Middle East”.

Their announcement on Tuesday triggered warnings from Israel and threats of consequences not only for the European countries but also for the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip.

What does recognition mean for Palestine?

Recognition fulfils a long-held Palestinian aim and places additional pressure upon the Western powers who have all committed to the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict yet have done little to further it in the past few years.

It will have few practical effects on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza, but it is crucial to secure more avenues to hold Israeli authorities accountable, Palestinian and international human rights organisations argue.

The symbolism behind such a move helps enhance Palestinians’ international standing, allowing for more pressure to be put on Israel to end the current war in Gaza, for example.

Who recognises Palestine so far?

Globally, 143 of the 193 United Nations member states recognise a Palestinian state.

Seven European Union members have recognised Palestine: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Cyprus, which announced recognition in 1988, before joining the EU.

The position within the former Czechoslovakia has grown confused since it recognised Palestine in 1988. After their divorce in 1992, Slovakia continued to recognise Palestine while the Czech Republic unrecognised it in 1992.

Who is about to recognise Palestine?

Belgium, Malta and Slovenia are also considering recognising Palestine although this may not happen in the short term.

Why is Israel threatened by this?

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the recognitions are an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and endanger its security. He has not offered any explanation as to how.

Some analysts see this as an indication of Israel’s increasing isolation on the world stage.

“What’s happening … means an increasing level of isolation of both Israel and its backers in the United States and the escalation of diplomatic support for Palestinian rights. … Israel is increasingly isolated in the world,” Phyllis Bennis, author and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.

Katz also said the moves by the European countries reward “terrorism”.

“We’re getting to hear [that] from lots of different people, that the recognition of a Palestinian state rewards Hamas for their actions on October 7, that attack in Israel,” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan said, reporting from Amman, Jordan, because Israel’s government has banned Al Jazeera from reporting from Israel.

What has Israel done in response?

Israel has reacted angrily to the three countries’ announcement and threatened the Palestinian people living under its control.

It recalled its ambassadors to Ireland, Norway and Spain.

“I am sending a sharp message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not go over this in silence,” Katz said.

In a provocative move, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, declaring it belonged “only to the state of Israel”.

“We will not even allow a statement about a Palestinian state,” he said there.

For his part, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said he would stop giving the Palestinian Authority (PA) its tax funds, which Israel collects.

Israel, whose occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law, is required to transfer taxes to the PA, which governs it.

Smotrich also demanded “punitive measures”, including establishing a new illegal settlement in the West Bank “for every country that unilaterally recognizes a Palestinian state”.

He also pushed for the construction of tens of thousands of housing units in pre-existing settlements.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced the reversal of a 2005 disengagement law that had withdrawn Israeli settlers from some West Bank settlements.

Related Articles

Back to top button